The archives at the Montauk Library holds a rich collection of postcards, many of which represent now-defunct Montauk motels from days gone by. It makes sense that motel owners would have created their own postcards; it was a cheap but ingenious form of advertising. Placed on racks near check-in / check-out desks, postcards were free for the taking. Subsequently mailed to friends and family members, often with a description of the glorious vacation being enjoyed by motel lodgers, postcards had a way of bringing in future guests.
The Montauk Library owns two examples of this Panoramic View postcard. One contains a 1987 handwritten message to friends in New Jersey. A couple named Alice and Bob had just said good-bye to company and driven 3 1/4 hours to Montauk to get a well-deserved break. “Hi, Dot. We have a beautiful view of beach and ocean. I expect to soak up ‘rest & relaxation’ to make up for my busy last month.” Alice indicated on the front of the postcard where they were staying: “I put an X where we are!” “Where they are” was a room with a spectacular view at the highest point on the bluff, looking directly down on the ocean.
The Panoramic View in Montauk had 1,000 feet of private oceanfront beach and was notable for providing an ocean view from private terraces belonging to every room or unit. It had been the brainchild of actress Kate Roemer French and her husband, Earl Raymond French, according to Kate’s East Hampton Star obituary (5/24/84). The Frenches had bought a house on Old Montauk Highway in 1947 and fallen so in love with the area that they built the Panoramic View 10 years later. Earl died in 1967, but Kate ran the resort right up to the end of her life. She passed away in May 1984 at the age of 85, hopefully getting a last-breath panoramic view from the same perch described so enthusiastically by Alice a few years later.